Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire (Boyle)

So close, and yet so far. Faint whiffs of greatness, only to be smothered by the rancid stench of screenwriting methane. I always know I'm in trouble when the reviews say it's a "feel-good movie." What that really means is "vapid wish-fulfillment movie." This one had some serious potential though. For at least the first hour, I was totally feeling it. First of all, as with City Of God, it was great to see a film about a part of the world which is extremely populated but which I know nothing about. Then I began getting that sinking sensation. You know, when you start to realize that a movie bringing up all these deep, primal emotions really has no interest in saying anything insightful about them? As soon as the credits rolled I said to myself, "Oops."

I also lowered my expectations when I found out the director was Danny Boyle. Boyle seems to me like one of those directors who must have had a really different childhood than I did. Whatever he wants out of cinema, it's not what I want. Trainspotting was entertaining because it was about people doing drugs and the soundtrack was great, but this is probably the fourth time I've thought about it since I saw it. Millions, like Slumdog Millionaire, was another silly movie about kids acquiring money through pure luck. I'm sorry, but that's just not a situation very many people find themselves in. If you had the freedom to pick whatever stories you wanted to film, what would compel you to pick stories like those? The guy definitely has the visual side of film making down, but the plots need some work. With Slumdog Millionaire, I kept wanting to reach in there and just give it a little...twist...just in a couple of places...hold still, this won't hurt a bit...but no. Everyone else in the theater seemed to be loving it though. Oh, how they were loving it. Personally, I couldn't wait to get home so I could go put on Midnight Cowboy.

(Slight spoiler warning):

I want to see Slumdog Millionaire 2, where the kid is forced by the Indian government to give up 70% of his winnings to taxes and an endless sea of sleazy stalkers constantly break into his house and he and the hot Indian girlfriend bicker about the phone bills and the laundry and it all just turns to shit.

"Film critic" rating: ***1/2
"Little Earl" rating: *1/2


jason said...

Danny Boyle also did A Life Less Ordinary, which is my go-to answer when someone asks, "What's the worst movie you've ever seen?" (I haven't seen the Batman movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, though. I heard that's even worse).

That said, I actually liked Slumdog Millionaire! Not sure why, I just did.

Herr Zrbo said...

My mom called me up right after seeing this. She said (with her typical British accent): "Oh Zrbo, this is going to win the Oscar!" I haven't seen the film yet, but I gotta say, my mom is really good at picking the Best Picture winner (she's done this before).

I want to see this movie to see which side of the love/hate fence I end up on. Oh, and look at that, now it's on top of my netflix queue! The wonders of tabbed browsing technology (tm)!

ninquelote said...

I have to sort of agree with LE on this one. I thought it was a great movie visually, but the gritty film making style didn't mesh as well as I had hoped with the "feel-good" story line. You kind of have to have one or the other.

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